Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ignobel research on disease transmission

Thanks to some Japanese schoolchildren, we now have some pretty impressive results on how to effectively spread the new 'flu:

1. Organise an inter-school sports competition. Volleyball is believed to be highly suitable. Probably other indoor sports would work here - research is still ongoing.
2. Get spectating pupils to blow up balloons by mouth - make sure they are generous with the saliva here. Get things nice and wet around the mouth of the balloon.
3. Release said balloons to fly around the hall liberally spattering spectators from the other schools.

Hey presto, a week later there should be cases popping up all over the prefecture.

For added benefit, it helps if the authorities focus all of their attention on the scary foreign disease threat, carefully screening all incomers before letting them off the plane and pressuring universities to cancel international conferences etc. As we all know, foreign is scary and dangerous! "None of the students had ever been abroad. So we never thought that this was the new virus."

Looking for a silver lining, at least the overseas travel bans (nothing nationally-sanctioned, but widely imposed by employers and schools) should be binned, as will be the airport quarantining.


O noes it's arrived in Tokyo! OMG!!11!!!!eleventy!! We're all going to die, or at least feel a little under the weather for a few days. Meanwhile, people are desperately lobbying the WHO to pretend that it isn't a pandemic (by their own definition, which it clearly satisfies).


crandles said...

Desperately lobbying may not be quite so desperate - looks like it may have succeded:

At least I don't have 1000 panflu yes coupons ;)

James Annan said...

I'll just have to start growing things in petri dishes and chucking them on random strangers :-)

(maybe some are wondering what "panflu" means...)

crandles said...

Naaaw, not random strangers, you need to keep doing it to school children from the affected areas to try to make it appear sustained.

Leave the random strangers part to the Americans betting on
Current Events - Swine flu.


James Annan said...

Well with 6 weeks left the lower of those figures certainly looks easily achievable - although they may give up testing when they realise it's just flu. Glad I didn't put real money on it!

crandles said...


"Taking bets and making money out of the misfortune of the unemployed is as distasteful as it gets,"

then what of creating a betting market out of the misfortune of people becoming ill and in so doing creating financial incentives to spread a new disease?

James Annan said...

Chris, there are always whingers prepared to bleat about anything, but of course just about any insurance is a form of betting, and I can't see where to draw a firm distinction between the "distasteful" and acceptable. Much has been written about the moral hazard of insurance.